Thursday, March 22, 2012
OBEDIENCE OR DISOBEDIENCE?
"But the descendants of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. So the Jebusites live in Jerusalem among the descendants of Judah to this day." (Joshua 15:63 HCSB)
"But, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer. So the Canaanites live in Ephraim to this day, but they are forced laborers." (Joshua 16:10 HCSB)
"The descendants of Manasseh could not possess these cities, because the Canaanites were determined to stay in this land. However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they imposed forced labor on the Canaanites but did not drive them out completely." (Joshua 17:12, 13 HCSB)
"So Joshua said to the Israelites, 'How long will you delay going out to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, gave you?' " (Joshua 18:3 HCSB)
Obedience or disobedience? There is no middle-ground. We will be faithful in all things or fail even in a few things--but, our choice is to obey God or disobey Him.
Is there such a thing as being a little pregnant? Neither is there such a thing as being a little disobedient to God--it is still sin. Is there such a thing as being mostly faithful? Just make this proposition to your spouse, "Honey, you know I love you, and for 364 days out of the year I'll be yours alone, but just one day a year, I'm going to have a one night stand with someone else." I'm sure that would go over well. Yet, this is often the way we behave--or worse.
Israel found out the hard way. God commanded them to conquer all the land of Canaan, and to sterilize it completely of paganism. That was strong medicine, but the only way to be healed from a deadly bacteria. They almost did--but, not quite--and the spiritual disease would come back with a vengeance.
I recall, several years ago, coming down with a fever, feeling flu-like symptoms, and not being able to shake it. A trip to my doctor was made in short order, as I have a weak immune system, due to having had my spleen removed. So, he prescribed some oral antibiotics. I got better for a few days--and then sick again. More pills, recovery and then relapse. After a few weeks of this, it was becoming serious, so I was hospitalized and given massive amounts of strong antibiotics, intravenously, for a week, until all the germs were not just made to retreat, but fully removed! It could have been lethal. This is what Israel failed to understand. Eventually, the nation was lost.
Partial obedience is disobedience. The "but" word is prominent in Joshua 15-18. They drove out the enemy "BUT" not all. It would prove to be their undoing. Why didn't they obey? Their disobedience was rooted in difficulty. Some foes didn't put up much of a fight, while others were stubborn. There were places where the enemy was entrenched and the challenge to overcome was daunting, so since they had conquered most of the land, they were content. They were content with disobedience.
Delayed obedience is disobedience. There were others who procrastinated. Time had lapsed. Some of the promised possession had not been seized. Their intentions were to do it some day--just not this day. Why did they disobey? Often such disobedience is rooted in distraction. We tend to get busy with the things we like to do and forget about the things we ought to do. Perhaps the Israelis were enjoying the blessings so much--and they should have--that they forgot the battles needed--and they should not have.
Are we making the same excuses for our disobedience? What God expects is too difficult! Perhaps we verbally commit to do something for the Lord and then just get distracted by the cares of the world and forget. Will we fail to reach our full potential because we fail to be fully obedient?
Joshua told them that despite the difficulty, they could conquer.
"Joseph's descendants said to Joshua, 'Why did you give us only one tribal allotment as an inheritance? We have many people, because the Lord has been blessing us greatly.'
'If you have so many people,' Joshua replied to them, 'go to the forest and clear [an area] for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, because Ephraim's hill country is too small for you.'
But the descendants of Joseph said, 'The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who inhabit the valley area have iron chariots, both at Beth-shean with its towns and in the Jezreel Valley.'
So Joshua replied to Joseph's family (that is, Ephraim and Manasseh), 'You have many people and great strength. You will not have just one allotment, because the hill country will be yours also. It is a forest; clear it and its outlying areas will be yours. You can also drive out the Canaanites, even though they have iron chariots and are strong.' " (Joshua 17:14-18 HCSB)
Paul said it this way in the New Testament, "I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13 HCSB) All of Christ is available for all I need if I make all of me available for all He wants.
Caleb and his son-in-law, Othniel, exhibited such obedience, and overcame the enemy. They fought giants and conquered them!
"He gave Caleb son of Jephunneh [the following] portion among the descendants of Judah based on the Lord's instruction to Joshua: Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron; Arba was the father of Anak). Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, descendants of Anak. From there he marched against the inhabitants of Debir whose name used to be Kiriath-sepher, and Caleb said, 'I will give my daughter Achsah as a wife to the one who strikes down and captures Kiriath-sepher.' So Othniel son of Caleb's brother, Kenaz, captured it, and Caleb gave his daughter Achsah to him as a wife." (Joshua 15:13-17 HCSB)
What is that stubborn sin that needs to be rooted out? Is there a giant in your life that hinders you from being all God wants you to be? Faith that looks to Jesus, leading to obedience that listens to Jesus, will bring victory in Jesus!
Obedience or disobedience? The ball is in your court.